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Seattle Council backs student plan to walkout, protest gun laws

Students testified in front of the city council ahead of a walkout Wednesday, honoring the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Students across the country are planning to walkout of class on Wednesday honoring the 17 people in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. In addition to remembering the victims, students will also be pushing for a change to gun laws.

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday backing the student’s effort.

Seattle Council Member Lorena Gonzalez sponsored the measure, noting how hundreds of Seattle high school students are expected to take part.

Among those students are Nathan Hale sophomores Krista Cherry and Eliza Cosgrove, who both testified before the Council.

"We're just students that are hoping we don't get shot at school," said Cosgrove, adding, "I believe this is how change gets started, I believe it is with students, it is with action."

Cherry acknowledged having anxiety in the wake of the shooting, and that lawmakers need to hear from students. "We need action to be taken, so when I'm at school I'm not scared, or threatened."

Zachary Heffron is a senior at Nathan Hale High School, and one of the organizers of the Seattle effort.

“Students just need support. We’re trying to start a movement so that Parkland is the last mass shooting, that things end there, that the movement doesn’t die down, that it keeps going and we keep pressing politicians to actually hold true to what they say they’re going to do,” Heffron said. “I think our biggest goal is to support every other student and really push the state and national level to really push for change and holding them accountable, telling them that this is what students believe and we’re going to be the next voters so you should probably listen to us.”

Heffron said this walkout will also be educational.

“I would say this is one of our best learning opportunities. At Hale, we always are taught that you have to get out from beyond the classroom in order to learn things. You can learn so much in your Government class, or economics, or math, but if you’re going to learn people skills, if you’re going to learn how to act in this world, you’re going to have to get out there and actually do something,” Heffron said. “I think this is a great educational opportunity because it is students actually going out and getting involved. Yes, we might miss a day of school, but we’ll probably learn far more than we would in that one day.”

Seattle Schools spokesperson Kim Schmanke said Monday that students have a first amendment right to demonstrate in a peaceful way. But, Schmanke said, if students do miss class it is possible it will be marked as an unexcused absence.